Antony Flew, George Wald and David Noebel on the Origin of Life

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Does God Exist?: William Lane Craig vs Antony Flew

Uploaded on Dec 16, 2010

http://drcraigvideos.blogspot.com – William Lane Craig and Antony Flew met in 1998 on the 50th anniversary of the famous Copleston/Russell debate to discuss the question of God’s existence in a public debate. Unlike Richard Dawkins, Flew was one of the most respected atheist thinkers of the 20th and early 21st century (his scholarly works on David Hume are still studied today, and his “presumption of atheism” argument is still used by atheists). He became a deist* shortly before he died in April, 2010 (although he was an atheist when he debated Craig). The debate was transcribed into a book: http://www.amazon.com/Does-God-Exist-…

* – Flew’s conversion has caused quite a scandal. Dr. Craig comments on it here: http://www.rfmedia.org/blog/index.php…

Antony Flew has comments on some of the controversies over his book and his conversion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CViBlN…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcdsRe…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUmZQh…

We welcome your comments in the Reasonable Faith forums:
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/

Follow Reasonable Faith On Twitter: http://twitter.com/rfupdates

Add Reasonable Faith On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/reasonablefai…

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Discussion (3 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.

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In the below comment section David Noebel stated the following:

Since writing my article on the origin of life I have read two books that basically make the same point and I will quote briefly from them, but encourage anyone interested in the subject to read both books from cover to cover: (1) John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, p.102, “Colin Patterson’s description highlights something very easily overlooked–the fact that natural selection is not creative. As he says, it is a ‘weeding out process’ that leaves the stronger progeny. The stronger progeny must be already there; it is not produced by natural selection…selection is made from already existing entities.” (2) Antony Flew, There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, p. 124 and 131, “The latest work I have seen shows that the present physicists’ view of the age of the universe gives too little time for these theories of abiogenesis [life from nonlife] to get the job done…How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and ‘coded chemistry’?…So how do we account for the origin of life? The Nobel Prize-winning physiologist George Wald once famously argued that ‘we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.’ In later years, he concluded that a preexisting mind, which he posits as the matrix of physical reality, composed a physical universe that breeds life: ‘the stuff of which physical reality is constructed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life…’ The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind.” David A. Noebel

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During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.”  I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work. My second cassette tape that I sent to both Antony Flew and George Wald was Adrian Rogers’ sermon on evolution.  

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Photo of Pastor Adrian Rogers Memorial Tribute

Below is the video of Rogers’ sermon on Evolution.

Check out this short article by Adrian Rogers:

I think that Antony Flew may have pondered this quote from George Wald which was in Adrian Rogers’ sermon.

Dr. George Wald of Harvard:

“When it comes to the origin of life, we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved one hundred years ago by Louis Pasteur, Spellanzani, Reddy and others. That leads us scientifically to only one possible conclusion — that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God…I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generationarising to evolution.” – Scientific American, August, 1954.

Adrian Rogers said the lack of an  answer for the  origin of life was a big reason Rogers rejected evolution.  Rogers noted, “Evolution offers no answers to the origin of life. It simply pushes the question farther back in time, back to some primordial event in space or an act of spontaneous generation in which life simply sprang from nothing.”

I actually had the chance to correspond with George Wald twice before his death. He wrote me two letters and in the first one he suggested that he was just using hyperbole when he made the assertion that is quoted by Dr. Rogers. He also suggested the religion of Buddhism although he said he was not a Buddhist himself, but he thought that would be closest to the truth which he thought was atheism. This does seem to contradict what Flew says of Wald’s views in the 1990’s. Flew contended concerning Wald:

In later years, he concluded that a preexisting mind, which he posits as the matrix of physical reality, composed a physical universe that breeds life: ‘the stuff of which physical reality is constructed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life…’ 

In my letters to both Wald and Flew in the 1990’s I demonstrated that  there is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Fortunately some modern philosophers and scientists are starting to wake up and realize that materialistic chance evolution was not responsible for the origin of the universe but it was started by a Divine Mind. In fact, Antony Flew who was probably the most famous atheist of the 20th century took time to read several letters I sent him the 1990’s which included much material from Francis Schaeffer and he listened to several cassette tapes I sent him from Adrian Rogers and then in 2004 he reversed his view that this world came about through evolution and he left his atheism behind and  because a theist.  I still have several of the letters that Dr. Flew wrote back to me and I will be posting them later on my blog at some point. One of the letters I got back in 1994 said specifically that he enjoyed listening to whole cassette tape.

Below is a fine article by David A. Noebel on the subject of the Origin of Life.

Posted: 10/23/07

The Spontaneous Origin of Life

By David A. Noebel

A little over a decade ago the Harvard University Gazette newspaper (September 12,1996) carried an article by William J. Cromie, which began, “Jack Szostak is trying to make a living organism out of nonliving chemicals.”

Szostak, a professor of genetics at Harvard University, says he is trying to imagine the simplest possible system that could get life started, and then make it in his lab.

Instead of heading for the world of the nonliving, however, Szostak has hit upon the idea that the best candidate for the first organism is “a bit of ribonucleic acid (RNA) enclosed in a plain capsule.”

That sounds so scientifically romantic-just a bit of RNA and a plain, simple capsule.  The article fails to mention how immensely complex both items are!  For the incredible complexity that accounts for these “simple” building blocks of life, see Michael J. Behe, The Edge of Evolution:  The Search for the Limits of Darwinism.

In fact, Szostak doesn’t hint how such items were originally found in nature to begin the process of creating life from nonliving matter.  RNA is not exactly nonliving matter and the “plain capsule” is not exactly nonliving matter.  The capsule is a protective sheaf that allows good things into that first speck of life; and disallows bad things to reach that same speck.  Its name is complexity-designed complexity!

The Cromie article admits that Szostak plans to skip the hard part of creating those original living molecules from plain old dead chemicals and instead start with “trillions of pieces of RNA in a solution.” Is this a cop-out or not?  Can someone explain to me in very short sentences how anyone would believe that trillions of pieces of RNA were just lying around along with a jar of the perfect solution at the very site where life was about to be born?

Instead of taking seriously the nanotechnology (machines made from molecules which make life possible) involved in such an undertaking, the genetics professor decides to skip that part.  But isn’t that the heart of the issue before us.  Hear the counsel of Francis Crick:  “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”  Or how about the counsel of the president of the National Academy of Sciences who stated, “the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered.”

In other words, within the same article we are told: (a) a Harvard professor is going to show the world how to make life from nonliving matter, and (b) how this same professor is going to begin his proof by bypassing nonliving matter and going directly to living matter.  Am I missing something here that any semiliterate person should find suspicious?

The article concludes with Szostak’s parting shot-“If we make something everyone agrees is alive, that would provide a plausible scenario for the great event [creating life from nonliving chemicals].”

Well, not exactly Dr. Szostak!  When you cash in your bits of RNA and its rich bed of information for good old dry, nonliving chemicals then we’ll tune you in again.  When you explain where you found that “plain capsule” to protect that first speck of life we’ll think more seriously of your efforts.

Now this brings up another question that demands an answer.  Does this whole process of creating life from nonlife require only an intelligent Harvard professor and a lab?  Don’t we need to add something else to this equation, i.e., intelligence?  Aren’t we getting awful close to the biblical declaration that the God of the universe (the intelligent portion) “created them male and female”  (Genesis 1)?  And would this not be a trillion times more difficult than creating a mere first speck of life?

David Berlinski makes this very point in his excellent response to his critics (Commentary, September 1996).  Upon quoting from Raff and Kaufman, who insist that the “central and still unsolved problem is, how do genes direct the making of an organism,” Berlinski writes, “Until we know that, I, for one, would hold off on claims that ‘the origin of life and its myriad of forms must be recast as the origin of biological information.'”

But Szostak isn’t the only one seeking to create life from nonlife.  In a more recent article entitled “Scientist to create artificial life” (Press Association Ltd., October 7. 2007) we are told that Craig Venter, a DNA researcher, has built “an almost entirely new life form for the first time.”

What nonliving chemicals did he use?  Listen carefully to the explanation-he built a “synthetic chromosome” and “implanted it in an existing living cell.”  And Venter is asking this already existing, living cell to host his chromosome in order to reproduce this new life form.

Would we be downright mean to ask Venter to place his synthetic chromosome into something nonliving and then show the world how a newly created life form really looks and functions?

Now it’s true that the article says the DNA researcher was creating “artificial” life and not life itself, but the impression is certainly given that life from nonlife is right around the corner.

However, we can still safely say that nonliving chemicals without intelligence equal nonliving chemicals.  We could just as honestly say that nonliving chemicals with human intelligence equal nonliving chemicals.  Life comes only from life according to the Law of Biogenesis, and this demands what materialists are reluctant to admit-a living and wise God!

Behe quotes from a National Academy of Sciences booklet entitled “Science and Creationism” that admits that “many scientists” believe that God created the universe including life on Earth.  That’s good!  What isn’t so good is that many of these same scientists still argue that Darwin’s natural selection and mutations can get us from that first speck of life to that first cell, from that first cell to multi-cells, and from multi-cells to Richard Dawkins.  I don’t believe that’s  possible, and it’s never been empirically proven to be possible.  It is a load that natural selection and mutations cannot handle.  It’s what 500 PhDs were trying to say when they did say, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.” (See Discovery Institute’s website for complete text)  Also, for readers seriously interested in this particular aspect of the subject please consider Stephen C. Meyer’s well-written article “Intelligent Design:  The Origin of Biological Information” also available via Discovery Institute’s website.

Those who argue for a materialistic interpretation of life, however, have to square their position with Michael Denton’s observations that life depends on the integrated activities of hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules.  And that’s just the start.  This organic book of life is written in a distinctive language-a genetic text.  The late Carl Sagan, a committed materialist, admitted that each cell contains more information than the Library of Congress. Will the materialists please tell the waiting world where this genetic text came from?  The Christian explanation is that it came from the mind of God.  And no nonliving chemicals have yet shown us such a written text.

It should also be noted that a living being does not develop simply because of its genetic code “but because of the mysterious force we call ‘life.’  It is ‘life’ that grows and animates the being in accordance with its genetic endowment.” (Dean Davis, In Search of the Beginning)

But those seeking to create life in their labs have an additional problem.  According to John Sanford’s classic Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, this problem is not just creating life from nonliving matter, but halting the decay of information that makes life possible.

If, as Carl Sagan admits, each cell contains more information than the Library of Congress, then obviously some of the information had to be available in that first speck of life as well.  In fact, at one level life might well be defined as information.  The book of life is the book of genetic information plus the breath of God.

But that information decays.  Genomes decay.  Life goes downward (the Second Law of Thermodynamics), not up, up and away toward multi-specks of life, cells, multi-cells and evidentially Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins.

Life is complex in all its aspects.  There really is no “simple” speck of life or “simple” cell.  There is also no empirical evidence that life emerged from nonliving matter apart from the very intelligence of God in the equation.  That translates into my parting statement:  spontaneous generation is a fairy-tale for grown-ups!

Distributed by http://www.worldviewweekend.com

By David NoebelEmail: Noebel@Summit.orgClick here for bio and archived articles

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READER FEEDBACK

Re: The Spontaneous Origin of Life

Posted On: 11/03/07 12:57:15 PM Age 71, CO

Since writing my article on the origin of life I have read two books that basically make the same point and I will quote briefly from them, but encourage anyone interested in the subject to read both books from cover to cover: (1) John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, p.102, “Colin Patterson’s description highlights something very easily overlooked–the fact that natural selection is not creative. As he says, it is a ‘weeding out process’ that leaves the stronger progeny. The stronger progeny must be already there; it is not produced by natural selection…selection is made from already existing entities.” (2) Antony Flew, There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, p. 124 and 131, “The latest work I have seen shows that the present physicists’ view of the age of the universe gives too little time for these theories of abiogenesis [life from nonlife] to get the job done…How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and ‘coded chemistry’?…So how do we account for the origin of life? The Nobel Prize-winning physiologist George Wald once famously argued that ‘we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.’ In later years, he concluded that a preexisting mind, which he posits as the matrix of physical reality, composed a physical universe that breeds life: ‘the stuff of which physical reality is constructed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life…’ The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind.” David A. Noebel

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